Army nurse honoured for work in Iraq

October 1, 2020

A nurse experienced in neonatal and practice nursing has recently been recognised by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) for her work with coalition forces in Iraq in 2018.

Bronwyn Flewellen, who graduated from the then Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology in 2012, has been a member of the regular defence force since 2016. She served in Iraq as a senior nursing officer responsible for providing health support to 3500 coalition forces and, in emergency cases, to civilians within Camp Taji.

Captain Flewellen was presented with a Defence Meritorious Service Medal in Wellington. Her citation praised her leadership skills during her pre-deployment training and when she was appointed second-in-charge of the Anzac Health Company.

While in Iraq, she created a clinical skills development programme for all coalition clinicians and helped set up a number of public health initiatives.

“The medical personnel participating in the programme had varying levels of training and not all of them spoke English or spoke it as their first language,” Flewellen said.

“We practised with simulated casualties to learn each other’s scope of practice and how we would work as a team if a multiple casualty event occurred.

“The second area, which I set up with an Australian nursing colleague, was around public health and the sharing of health intelligence. With so many nations providing individualised health care, public health concerns were getting missed. We needed to know if there were outbreaks of communicable diseases, particularly gastro-type illnesses. We established fortnightly meetings with a representative from each nation’s health team, which resulted in swift action when problems arose.”

Flewellen, who is based at Linton Military Camp, said she was delighted to have been honoured for this work. “To have had the opportunity to enhance nursing care to our deployed forces and to enhance relationships with our coalition nations was a privilege. I’m also proud to represent the Royal New Zealand Nursing Corps.”